Solar panels are largely self-maintaining, but over time, dust and other substances like bird droppings can build up and reduce their efficiency, especially in dry regions or where the panels’ tilt is minimal. The tiniest bit of grime or bird droppings can make a difference, even if it doesn’t cover an entire panel. That’s when it becomes necessary to clean your solar panels.
Guide To Cleaning Solar Panels
Before you start cleaning your solar panels, it’s crucial to follow the shutdown procedure outlined in your manual to ensure safety.
If possible, it’s recommended to clean your panels from the ground for safety reasons. A high-quality soft brush and a squeegee with a plastic blade on one side and a cloth-covered sponge on the other, both attached to a long pole, can be ideal tools for this purpose. You can use a hose with an appropriate nozzle to reach the panels with a stream of water.
NOTE: If you can’t clean your solar panels from the ground, don’t attempt to climb onto your rooftop unless you have the proper safety equipment and training. If this isn’t the case, it’s best to hire a suitably qualified professional.
The best time to clean your solar panels is on an overcast day or during the early morning or late evening hours. When the sun is directly shining on the panels, any water used for cleaning can evaporate quickly, leading to streaks or smears of dirt. The early morning can be particularly beneficial for cleaning, as the overnight dew likely softens the grime on the panels, making it easier to clean with less water and energy.
If the panels are dry, start by brushing off any loose materials before using water. This approach makes the cleaning process more efficient and quicker. When it comes to removing stubborn substances, steer clear of metal objects or harsh abrasive products that could scratch the glass on a solar panel. Scratches can reduce the panel’s performance by casting shadows. If possible, try to avoid using detergents, as they can leave streaks on the glass. Similarly, abrasive powders pose a risk of scratching the panels.
Given the durability and quality of solar panel glass, you’ll find that a bit of clean water and some elbow grease with a rough cloth-covered sponge or a soft brush can effectively remove even the most stubborn dirt. You can also use plastic scourers if needed. If the water from your main supply is hard, meaning it’s rich in minerals, consider using rainwater for a final rinse before drying with a squeegee. If hard water is all you have, make sure to squeegee it thoroughly, as water with high mineral content can leave deposits on the glass as it dries.
When dealing with oily stains, which may occur if you live near an airport or a major highway frequented by trucks, you can use isopropyl alcohol as a spot-cleaning agent. In most residential settings, cleaning solar panels might not be worth the trouble or the risk of climbing onto your rooftop. Unless dirt is clearly visible or performance is noticeably affected, it’s often best to let nature do its job, just as it does in the generation of solar power.
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